Steph Curry, a four time NBA MVP, eight time All Star, and winner of four NBA championships with the Golden State Warriors, has the phrase “I can do all things…” on each of his Under Armour “SC” basketball shoes. It’s a nod to the verse in the Bible, Philippians 4:13, where Paul shares personally with the Christian believers in Philippi about his contentment in God’s provision “in any and every season, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (4:12).
For Steph, it’s a mantra that he “lives by and something that drives him every single day.” Not only is Steph driven to be a great basketball player, but he is also driven to inspire people to find something that drives them as well.
For Paul, it was of course more than a phrase or mantra. It was an incredibly deep and difficult lesson learned. From being famous and powerful in his own right, to becoming blind, shipwrecked, and imprisoned, Paul knew better than most what it means to do all things through God’s strength.
For me, seeing my strengths has a lot to do with seeing my weaknesses. This takes humility and honesty (in that order). I’ve often heard (and even said it myself) that to maximize our effectiveness, we need to play to our strengths and avoid or minimize our weaknesses. I believe this sounds good but just isn’t realistic. What if we saw our strengths and weaknesses as being intricately connected? What if we realized that when we truly see and own our weaknesses, we can also discover and build our strengths? We can not only discover them, but we learn to embrace them and find them in places we never thought to look before!
Imagine the sun and a mountain. The mountain is our strengths, and the correlating shadow is our weaknesses. The higher the mountain (strength), the wider the shadow (weakness). Let’s say the
strength is being extremely driven (like Steph or Paul). What could the shadow be? Possibly pride, or being too hard on ourselves, or not aware of other people’s needs and feelings? The more we honestly and compassionately look at our strengths and weaknesses being connected and part of us, the more we’ll build self-awareness, self-compassion, and “duh” moments, where we or someone else says “well, duh, of course that’s not your strength, and that’s OK!!
Whether you believe that God created you or not, living your strengths by accepting your weaknesses will lead to a life with more peace and purpose. We can stop ignoring, minimizing, and rationalizing away our shadows and begin to find some comfort in the cool shade they sometimes provide. And then we can start to experience that in all things we can find our strength.